Baptisms

at Essential Rock Church

the demonstration of devotion

OUr next baptism

will be on

Sunday, May 6th, 2018

after second service. 

Interested in being baptized by total immersion as Jesus was?

You don't have to be a member of ERC to be baptized.

The only requirement is that you have made the personal decision to accept Jesus Christ as your Savior and now want to publically proclaim it.


"...and this water symbolizes baptism that now saves you also—not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a clear conscience toward God. It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ..."

1 Peter 3:21


Listen to Pastor John's

sermon about baptism.


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Any words on baptism, including these, must be seen as human efforts to understand a holy event. Our danger is to swing to one of two extremes: we make baptism either too important or too unimportant. Either we defy it or we trivialize it. One can see baptism as the essence of the gospel or as irrelevant to the gospel. Both sides are equally perilous. One person says, “I am saved because I was baptized.” The other says, “I am saved, so I don’t need to be baptized.” The challenge is to let the pendulum stop somewhere between the two viewpoints. This is done by placing it where it should be: at the foot of the cross.

Once a person admits his sin and turns to Christ for salvation, some steps must be taken to proclaim to heaven and earth that he or she is a follower of Christ. 


Baptism is an important step because it is the initial step of obedience by one who has declared his faith in Jesus to others. So important was this step that, as far as we know, every single convert in the New Testament was baptized. With the exception of the thief on the cross, there is no example of an unbaptized believer.

The thief on the cross, however, is a crucial exception. His conversion drives dogmatists crazy. It is no accident that the first one to accept the invitation of the crucified Christ had no creed, confirmation, christening, or catechism. 


How disturbing to theologians ascending the mountain of doctrine only to be greeted by an uneducated thief who cast his lot with Christ. Here is a man who never went to church, never gave an offering, never was baptized, and said only one prayer. But that prayer was enough. He has a crucial role in the gospel drama. 


The thief reminds us that though our dogma may be airtight and the doctrine dead-center, in the end it is Jesus who saves. Does his story negate the importance of obedience? No, it simply puts obedience in proper perspective. Any step taken is a response to salvation offered, not an effort at salvation earned. In the end, only God has the right to save any heart, for He and only He sees the heart.

Some common questions about baptism...

John answered them all, saying, “I baptize you with water, but he who is mightier than I is coming, the strap of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.

- Luke 3:16 (ESV)

  • Infant vs. Adult Baptism, does it make a difference?

    Which is more appropriate: To baptize babies or to baptize people who are old enough to make a personal decision?


    Obviously, there are bright, godly people of both persuasions. However, it seems clear that in the New Testament, baptism is a willing pledge made by those who are old enough to recognize their sin, mature enough to comprehend the significance of the death of Christ, and independent enough to commit themselves to Him.


    It is important to note that there isn’t a clear reference to a baby being baptized in the whole of the Bible. Almost every time baptism is mentioned, it is preceded by some command for belief. A good example is Acts 2:38: "Change your hearts and lives and be baptized, each one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins."


    We are never told to be baptized and then believe, but to first come to belief in trusting faith, and then displaying that decision by associating ourselves with Christ in baptism. Baptism is the initial step of a faithful heart, and this decision requires significant levels of maturity.


    It is appropriate, however, to dedicate a baby. At Essential Rock, we do baby dedications. On a regular basis, we offer parents of newborns an opportunity to come forward with their children for prayer and consecration. Note that these are dedication ceremonies, not baptisms.


    What if I was baptized as an infant? What should I do?


    I have been baptized, but not by immersion...


    First, you should be grateful that you had parents who cared enough about you to set you apart for God. Because of their devotion, you have an opportunity to complete their prayer by willingly submitting to adult baptism.


    Adult baptism is not a sign of disrespect for what your parents did. In fact, it can be seen as a fulfillment of their prayers. Be thankful for the heritage of concerned parents, but don’t be negligent of your responsibility as an adult to make your personal pledge toward God in adult baptism. Several who are now members of this church were baptized as infants and then, upon coming to a personal faith, were baptized as adults. God has led you to this point, and we pray that you will take this important step as soon as possible.


    All the Greek dictionaries of the New Testament define the Greek word 'baptize' as 'immersion'. The symbolism of immersion is compelling; just as a person lowers you into the water, Christ lowers you into the pool of his grace until every inch of your self is clean. Buried in a watery grave, covered from head to foot with God’s love, you are washed clean by the blood of Jesus. 


    If you have any questions or concerns about this aspect of baptism, we welcome the opportunity to visit with you. Please reach out to Pastor John at (920) 841-6459, or send us an message through our contact form.

  • What does the Bible say about baptism?


    A helpful verse to understanding baptism is:

    1 Peter 3:21

    "And that water is like baptism which now saves you,

    not the washing of dirt from the body,

    but the promise made to God from a good conscience.

    And this is because Jesus Christ was raised from the dead." 


    This promise is vital. Baptism separates the tire kickers from the car buyers. Would you feel comfortable marrying someone who wanted to keep the marriage a secret? Neither does God. It’s one thing to say in the privacy of your own heart that you are a sinner in need of a Savior. But it’s quite another to walk out of the shadows and stand before family, friends, and colleagues, and state publicly that Christ is your forgiver and master. 


    This step raises the ante! Jesus commanded all his followers to prove their faith and to make a pledge by public demonstration in baptism. Among his final words was the universal command to: "Go and make followers of all people in all the world, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit." (Matthew 28:19) 


    Curious to know more? Here are some additional references in God's Word regarding the importance (and the nature of) baptism:

    • Acts 2:38 - Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit."
    • Romans 6:3-4Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.
    • 1 Peter 3:21And this water symbolizes the baptism that now saves you also—not the removal of dirt from the body, but the pledge of a good conscience toward God. It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

    It is possible to read these verses (and many others) in the New Testament, and come up with a variety of views on baptism. Essential Rock Church will welcome any person who professes faith in Jesus as their Savior; but we urge you to take very seriously the clear command of Scripture that “believers” (not infants) should be baptized. We believe that the New Testament form of baptism is by immersion. (The Greek word for baptism literally means “to immerse”). Any believer can baptize another believer.


    If you would like to be baptized by an elder, minister, small group leader, or someone who has had significant spiritual influence in your life, please contact the church office and we will make arrangements for you to be baptized. If you would like to study baptism in greater detail, we have included excerpts from an article on baptism by Max Lucado called "Baptism: The Demonstration of Devotion". Here are a couple of excerpts from that article:

    • Don’t allow baptism to be something it is not. Apart from the cross it has no significance. If you are trusting a dunk in the water to save you, you have missed the message of grace.
    • Beware of dogmatism. No one this side of heaven can fully understand the majesty of baptism. Watch out for the one who claims to have a corner on the issue, especially if that person is in your mirror.
    • Don’t prevent baptism from being what God intended. This is not an optional command. This is no trivial issue. It is a willing plunge into the power and promise of Christ.

    Baptism is the first step of a believer. If it was important enough for Jesus to command it, isn’t it important enough for you to obey? And if it was important enough for Jesus to do, isn’t it important enough for you to follow?”

  • Let's put it into perspective...

    In the New Testament, baptism was no casual custom, no ho-hum ritual. Baptism was, and is, “a pledge made to God from a good conscience.” (1 Peter 3:21, TJB) 


    The Apostle Paul’s high regard for baptism is demonstrated in the fact that he knows all of his readers have been instructed in its importance. "You wholeheartedly obeyed the form of teaching to which you were committed." (Romans 6:17)


    Indeed, baptism is a vow, a sacred vow of the believer to follow Christ. Just as a wedding celebrates the fusion of two hearts, baptism celebrates the fusion of two hearts. Baptism celebrates the union of sinner with Savior. We “became part of Christ when we were baptized.” (Romans 6:3)


    Do the bride and groom understand all of the implications of the wedding?


    No.


    Do they know every challenge or threat they will face?


    Certainly not.


    However, they know that they love each other, and that they vow to be faithful to the end.


    When a willing believer enters the waters of baptism, does he know the implications of the vow?


    No.


    Does she know every temptation or challenge?


    No way.


    Yet, both know the love of God and are responding to Him.


    Please understand, it is not the act of baptism that saves us. It is the act, however, that symbolizes how we are saved! The invisible work of the Holy Spirit is visibly dramatized in the water. That plunge beneath the running waters is like a death; the moments pause while they sweep overhead like a burial. The standing erect once more in air and sunlight is a species of resurrection. (Sanday and Headlam, “A Critical and Exegetical Commentary of the Epistle to the Romans,” in The International Commentary).


    Remove your shoes, bow your head, and bend your knees: this is a holy event! Baptism is not to be taken lightly. The event is a willing plunge of the body and soul into the promise and power of Christ. The ritual of washing signifies that we are willing to die to sin and self and that we can be made alive again because of Jesus. Luther referred to baptism as death by drowning. Baptism effectively seals our salvation, uniting us to Jesus and his body. Christ’s death becomes my death. Christ’s resurrection becomes my resurrection. There is no indication of an unbaptized believer in the New Testament church.


    Let us now turn our attention to specific questions that have been raised in regard to baptism...


  • What are the requirements in order to be baptized?

    You need to realize only that you are a sinner and that Jesus is your Savior. As you grow in Christ, you’ll learn more about baptism. You’ll learn that embodied and represented in baptism is the gift of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38), commitment to the church (Hebrews 10:24-25), and being clothed with Christ (Galatians 3:26-27), to name a few.


    It is helpful to read the book of Acts and try to determine what the candidates in the first century knew before they were baptized: the three thousand baptized on the day of Pentecost in Acts 2; the Ethiopian Official in Acts 8; the jailer in Acts 16; and the conversion of Paul in Acts 22:16.

    In each of these cases, there was an innocent faith and an immediate response. Let’s take a quick look at each of these events.


    • What did they understand at Pentecost?
    • God has made Jesus - the man you nailed to the cross - both Lord and Christ. (Acts 2:36)
    • How did they respond?
    • Those who accepted the message were baptized, and about three thousand people were added to the number of believers that day. (Acts 2:41)
    • What was the message of Philip to the Ethiopian?
    • Philip began to speak and…. Told him the good news about Jesus. (Acts 8:35)
    • What did the jailer understand?
    • (Paul and Silas) said to him, “Believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved—you and all the people in your house.” (Acts 16:31) 
    • How did he respond? 
    • At that hour of the night the jailer took Paul and Silas and washed their wounds. Then he and all his people were baptized immediately. (Acts 16:33
    • What did Saul know before he was baptized?
    • (Ananias) stood by me and said, “Brother Saul… the God of our ancestors chose you long ago to know his plan, to see the Righteous One, and to hear words from him… Now why wait any longer? Get up, be baptized, and wash your sins away, trusting in him to save you.” (Acts 22:14-16) Then Saul got up and was baptized.

    Do you see some similarities? The message and the response are consistent. The message is Jesus and the response is voluntary: a simple faith in Christ and an immediate response to faith in baptism.


    Could it be possible for someone to be baptized without even a knowledge of Christ? Absolutely. Some may be baptized out of peer pressure, parent pressure, or even as a good luck charm. There is the extreme case of Emperor Constantine marching his troops through a river and claiming that they were all Christians as a result. There are those who, upon reflection, decide that they had no idea what they were doing the first time. Now that they understand what God did for them, they want to say 'thank you' in baptism. Such a decision is personal, for only you and God know your own heart.

  • Does the location matter when I am baptized?

    The answer to this is a resounding “No!”


    Scripture is abundantly clear that only Jesus saves. The work of salvation is a finished work by Christ on the cross. Baptism has no redemptive powers of its own. There is nothing special about the water, nothing holy about the river, or the pond, or the baptistery.


    Tragically, some people believe they are going to heaven when they die just because a few drops of water were sprinkled over their head a few weeks after their birth. They have no personal faith, they have never made a personal decision, and they are banking on a hollow ceremony alone to save them. How absurd! If baptism were a redemptive work, then why did Jesus die on the cross? If we could be saved just by being sprinkled or dunked, do you think Jesus would have died they way he did for our sins? If your faith is in the sacrament and not in the Savior, you are trusting in a ritual that by itself is powerless.

  • What if I die and I am not baptized. Will I go to hell?

    This question is the best answered with a question. Why isn’t the person baptized? There are three possible answers:

    • “I never understood baptism.” Perhaps you were never instructed to be baptized. Maybe you've never been challenged to consider the issue. That’s entirely possible. If this is the case, we urge you to give thought to what God says about baptism. This doesn’t negate your faith up to this point. Part of maturity is an openness to understand areas of the Christian walk.
    • A second reason for not being baptized is, “I don’t want to.” Let’s analyze this response for a moment. God humbles himself by leaving heaven and being born in a feed-trough. The God of the universe eats human food, feels human feelings, and dies a sinner’s death. He is spat upon, beaten and stripped naked, and nailed to a cross. He takes our eternal condemnation onto himself in our place. He then offers salvation as a free gift and asks that we say 'yes' to Him in baptism, and someone responds, “I don’t want to.” Such logic does not add up. Such resistance doesn’t reveal a problem with baptism, but instead indicates trouble in the soul. It reveals a problem of the heart. Such a person does not need a study of the sacrament. He needs a long, hard examination of the soul. The incongruity puzzled even Jesus: “Why do you call me “Lord, Lord,” and do not do the things I ask?” (Luke 6:46)

    True believers not only offer their sins; they yield their wills to Christ. Baptism is the initial test of the believing heart. If one won’t obey Christ in baptism, what will they do when he calls them to obey him in prayer? Or in evangelism? Or in service? The highest motive for doing anything is - because God asks you to do it. The heart of the saved says, “If you want me to be baptized in a pile of leaves, I’ll do it. I may not understand every reason, but neither do I understand how you can save a sinner like me.” If one is resistant on the first command regarding coming to Jesus, one might wonder if there has been a true conversion experience.


    But there are those who are not baptized for a third reason.

    • “What of the ones who die before they have a chance?" What if I entrust my soul to Christ and before I can tell anyone and arrange to be baptized, a swarm of killer bees attacks me and I die? The answer to this question is found in the character of God. Would a God of love reject an honest heart? No way. Would a God of mercy and kindness condemn a seeking soul? Absolutely not. Having called you and died for you, would he cast you away because of a curious sequence of events? Inconceivable!

    Baptism is an outward expression of an internal choice to believe that the power that saves us from hell is in Jesus Christ alone.